Find Your Black Ducks

Shifting the way we think may help us find greater meaning to our lives and discover personal happiness.

Long ago, in Medieval Europe, people believed all ducks were white. They paddled on lakes and migrated overhead. Naturally, people assumed that if you saw a thousand white ducks, all ducks were white. This is what we call and example of inductive reasoning.

For most of us, whether we are suffering from depression, stress, addiction or pain, it may seem that all our ducks are white; that is, our current problems seem like they will never end and happiness or personal fulfillment will always be out of reach. We sink deeper into a kind of demoralized despair, isolating ourselves from our friends and family, maybe even turning to drugs to number the awful thoughts and feelings we can't escape.

Back to Medieval times...One day, the strangest thing happened to a lowly serf - he looked out across a river and saw a black duck. The news spread throughout Europe: the sight of one black duck created what we call a paradigm shift in the collective consciousness.

What about you? Have you found any black ducks in your life? A black duck may be a moment of spontaneous laughter in which all thoughts or pain are forgotten. It may be that moment when you lose yourself in a thrilling movie. Black duck moments are those moments in which we fully engage in a present-centered activity, when we nourish self-acceptance, when we let go of suffering and discover in our lives a bit of greater meaning and purpose than we could have imagined for ourselves.

Seeking the black ducks in our lives is but one of many ways that we can cultivate acceptance, resilience and gratefulness in order to achieve happiness.
If you would like to find out more about how to change your relationship to thoughts so as to discover your own precious black ducks, Dr. Stephen Hayes book on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, is a great place to start. Or visit this informative ACT website

We also recommend the following books: 

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn  
  • Mindfulness For Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn 
  • A Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Workbook, Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein 


Bruce Singer, Psy.D. 
Program Director of the Chronic Pain and Addiction Center
Silver Hill Hospital 


We look forward to your comments on this and all Silver Hill Hospital posts. 

Silver Hill Hospital’s blog is intended only to provide information; it is not intended to provide diagnosis or treatment. If this is an emergency, please call 911.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »